A simple illustration, which I learned many years ago from managers at Kollmorgen, demonstrates my point. Imagine that you have two roller skates, attached to one another by a spring. You use the first roller skate to control the motion of the second. It’s a bit tricky, but doable. Now, add a third roller skate, attached with another spring--and, moreover, give that new spring a different "spring constant" (i.e, make it either easier or more difficult to to extend than the first spring). Now, try to control the third roller skate by moving only the first. It's much trickier. Keep adding roller skates, each attached by springs with different spring constants. It doesn't take long to give up any hope of controlling the roller skate at the far end of the line. Organizations are infinitely more complex than this simple line of roller skates and springs. You can begin to see why one person dictating orders from "one end of the line" cannot possibly control what happens in a complex organization.

source: Peter Senge, The Fifth Discipline p 290 tags: Leadership, Organization, Empowerment